Note: Do not read on if you have not seen Season 1, Episode 2 of CBS' "Under the Dome," titled "The Fire"
Summer is treating "Under the Dome" well thus far. The series premiere pulled in millions of viewers, and thankfully, the second episode didn't disappoint.
Last week we met the unfortunate residents of Chester's Mill. Unfortunate because they're now sealed under a transparent and impermeable dome with limited resources and no clue how to escape. Even more unlucky, their entire fire department happened to be at a parade in the next town over on the day the dome struck, so not only are they up against God-knows-what, they have few firefighters to help them when tragedy strikes.
Which brings us to this week's episode. The show begins with a flashback of Barbie and Julia Shumway's husband, Peter, in a fight. Barbie is demanding something and "the boss won't be happy" if he doesn't get it. After a few punches, the journalist's now-missing spouse goes down. Barbie wakes up in a tizzy, seemingly stricken with guilt over the murder. We still don't know what caused the fight or what this stranger wanted from Julia's husband.
Later in the episode, Barbie attempts to cover up Peter's murder by returning to the scene of the crime and reclaiming his lost dog tags. Julia also seems to have caught him a in a lie, but nothing too damning quite yet.
We also learn that Duke, the town's sheriff whose pacemaker exploded at the end of the pilot, didn't make it. Deputy Linda is stricken with grief -- Duke was like a father to her, enough so that he left her all his assets, including his home. As expected, Big Jim isn't too happy about that. He has a secret to protect, remember?
At the town's lone radio station, two employees have managed to pick up military conversations from outside and discover that the barrier is being called a "dome." They decide to keep this information to themselves until they know more. That is, until Julia Shumway busts in on them, steals the microphone and alerts the whole town that this shield is scarier than they thought.
Outside of the dome, military personnel are patrolling but they are under orders not to speak to the townspeople. Basically, in the span of the episode, all we see them doing is pacing back and forth and lifting up their walkies-talkies. Clearly, they aren't going to be the ones to save this poor town. However, through radio signals, we learn that they too are clueless as to what caused the dome.
We also catch up with our resident psychopath, Junior, and his poor captive. Angie, like any reasonable teenager who finds herself locked in a dungeon by her ex-boyfriend, is frantically attempting to escape when we meet her again. Taking no chances, Junior resorts to shackling her to the bed and admits he was jealous because he caught Angie talking to Barbie outside of the hospital.
Junior's insanity is becoming harder and harder to believe. Last episode, he lead us to think he knew something no one else did about the chaos, which is why he locked Angie away. But now we see that Junior's motivation was pure jealousy. We're supposed to accept that until now, Junior was relatively normal -- not a guy who would lock his girlfriend in a shelter because she talked to another man.
A more compelling and believable plotline concerns the propane scheme we briefly learned about in the pilot. This week, we find that Big Jim and Duke didn't work alone -- the town's reverend, Coggins, was also part of the ploy. In an attempt to "clean up their mess," the reverend sneaks off to the sheriff's house, where they fear important evidence could be found if Linda gets there before they do.
All the while Joe, the teenager who owes Barbie his life, is proving himself to be smarter than most adults in the town. Using his high school math skills (hey, at least Chester's Mill has a great education system), Joe is able to figure out that the dome is 10 miles wide, covering the entire town. He may not realize his only remaining family member (Angie) is now missing, but he was able to discover that the dome isn't completely impervious -- it's like a sieve. While water can't get in completely, small amounts are able to leak through. Seriously, they should just put Joe in charge of the town.
The imagery of the dome continues to be one of the best parts of the show. At one point, Joe's friend Ben uses spray paint to draw an "escape route." In another scene, the teenagers happen upon two severed legs a la "Wizard of Oz." The owner of the legs is no where to be found, but the gory result that's left behind is pretty amazing.
The episode hits its climax when the reverend finally breaks into Duke's house. After finding the propane documents he was searching for, he sets them on fire and tosses them into the trash, declaring that "the Lord works in mysterious ways." Yes, indeed. Seconds later, the house is aflame. Since the fire department is stuck outside, the whole town rushes to help.
The residents prove they haven't yet turned on each other (trust me, it's coming) as they band together in an attempt to snuff out the fire. Though their efforts are futile (in the end, only Big Jim and a bulldozer that can stop the flames), the scene provides hope that maybe, just maybe, they can get through tragedy this if they keep working together.
Except this is Stephen King, not a feel-good PSA, and moments later a rogue police officer loses it, makes an announcement that they're all doomed and shoots his gun at the dome. The bullets ricochet off the shield and hit another policeman in the chest. And so we're left with the reality that when things get bad, it's every man for himself.
What we know so far
- Electronic things explode when they're near the dome.
- The entire dome is 10 miles.
- Some water can get through the dome, but not much.
- We can cross the military off the list of potential culprits.
What we have yet to figure out
- The seizures were not really addressed this episode, so we're still unsure why some people suffer and others don't. Joe had a seizure last episode but was fine in this one.
- What exactly Big Jim is doing with the propane and how Duke was involved.
- Who the show's love interests will be. My bet's on either Barbie and Julia (drama!) or Joe and the troubled teenager who was on her way to reform camp but got stuck in the dome instead. They made yes at each other while trying to put out the fire.
- Does the rest of the world know about the dome yet? We don't know if the news has leaked out past the city limits.
"Under the Dome" airs Mondays, 10 p.m. ET on CBS.